Brett Hankison: Fired LMPD detective thought Kenneth Walker was firing an AR-15

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Friday evening, October 2, 2020
Breonna Taylor was shot dead during what her family attorneys called a "botched raid" at her apartment in March.
Breonna Taylor was shot dead during what her family attorneys called a "botched raid" at her apartment in March. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former LMPD Det. Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment related to the Breonna Taylor case
Former LMPD Det. Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment related to the Breonna Taylor case (Source: Shelby County Jail)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The public has never heard from former LMPD Det. Hankison about the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment on March 13.

Until now.

More than a dozen recordings of approximately 15 hours of grand jury testimony were released Friday in the high-profile case. Taylor, a 26-year-old healthcare worker, was shot dead in the raid, sparking a national outcry urging police reform and more than 120 days of protests across Louisville.

Hankison was fired in June and indicted last month for “blindly” firing 10 rounds from outside of Taylor’s apartment. As officers were using a battering ram to get into Taylor’s apartment, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired what he would later call a warning shot, thinking intruders were breaking in. Sgt. Jon Mattingly was struck in the leg, and the raid turned chaotic.

Hankison shared his account of the raid during a grand jury hearing 10 days later.

“I returned fire from the angle that I believed (Walker) to still be shooting from, because I could still see muzzle flashes and I could hear the fire, almost like automatic weapon firing, what in my mind, I was certain it was an AR 15," Hankison said. "I now had a shot where I had my own options to return fire and I did that to the muzzle flashes, and I want to be specific about this, I had already seen where the threat was, saw where he was positioned.”

The narcotics warrant was one of several that LMPD officers were serving that night, as part of a larger drug investigation. Taylor, an ex-boyfriend named Jamarcus Glover and a man named Adrian Walker were named on the warrant that led officers to her apartment. A short time earlier, Glover was taken into custody during a separate raid at another location.

Hankison, who more than once got choked up during his testimony, said he felt “helpless” in a raid against someone whom he thought was armed with such a high-powered rifle.

“I was afraid, and I had a super helpless feeling, knowing I had a handgun, and this guy had an AR 15," he said. "I felt pretty helpless, like there’s no way we can challenge him, (a) guy with an assault rifle.”

Hankison then described what happened after Mattingly was shot.

“Sgt. Mattingly is down, they’re either pulling him, lot of commotion ... I didn’t know if they were getting to him (pause), I didn’t know if Jon was down and they couldn’t get his body out," he said. "All I could hear was firing, see flashing, I thought they were just getting executed because I know they were helping Jon. Jon had said, ‘I’m hit. I’m down.’ Gunfire intensifying.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s team presented its case over several days to the grand jury, which last week handed up three indictments on first-degree wanton endangerment charges for Hankison. The charges are related to the bullets that went into Taylor’s neighbors' apartments. Nobody was charged directly in Taylor’s death.

Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, who also fired their weapons that night, were cleared of wrongdoing.

“Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence, and the Grand Jury was given a complete picture of the events surrounding Ms. Taylor’s death on March 13th," Cameron said in a statement Friday. "While it is unusual for a court to require the release of the recordings from Grand Jury proceedings, we complied with the order, rather than challenging it, so that the full truth can be heard.”

Hankison also said that when he talked to Walker moments after the shooting, Walker allegedly told him that Taylor had fired her gun at the officers.

“(Walker) said, ‘My girlfriend is dead in the apartment,'” Hankison recalled. “I mean, my mind was like, ‘Did he, did something already happen? Did he kill his girlfriend?’ He said, 'No, she was shooting with her 9, her 9 millimeter. He said she was the one that shot at us.”

This story is being updated.

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